Cities wooing major events like the Olympics or a national nominating convention typically want decision makers to experience a little local flavor. For Columbus, Ohio, that flavor is White House Blueberry.
Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, is eager to support her hometown's bid for the 2016 Democratic Convention. In 2012, the business had introduced its own version of the traditional flavor White House Cherry, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Japan's gift of cherry trees to the United States. So it was a short imaginative leap to creating another politically themed concoction just for the Democrats. But no cherries this time. Cherries are red.
"I was thinking blue," says Bauer. "Blueberries are everywhere in Ohio. And I wanted 'White House' in the name because I wanted them to get the idea that Columbus can help the Democrats win the White House."
Developing the new flavor was short work and the cost nominal. The company already had local berries in-house, left over from its summer production of lemon-blueberry ice cream. In the test kitchen there were elderflower liqueur and white chocolate. Experience Columbus, part of the Greater Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau, paid $13 a pint to ship the ice cream to 50 key influencers in the convention-site decision. Jeni's Splendid does a brisk online business, so melting wasn't a concern.
Along with each pint, Bauer included a note taking a delicate dig at Columbus's rivals for the convention. "New York and Philly are great, traditional options," she wrote. "Anyone who's had vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate knows this. We're your salty caramel. Unexpected, revelatory, beloved."
"I was trying to explain that people don't understand how beloved the city of Columbus is," says Bauer. "I've been on two book tours, and out of the 100 or so people who show up [at each event], at least 20 percent are from Columbus or have a Columbus connection. People who love it really love it."
Bauer says she would have made the same effort for the other party if it hadn't already committed to Cleveland. "We would have loved to have the Republicans, too," she says. "We just want to show off our city."